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The Paralympic Games – my experience of being a Games Maker

24 August 2021

By Laura Griffiths

The moment that London was announced the host of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games is a moment from my school days that I will never forget. We all celebrated loudly and proudly the fact that our capital city was going to be hosting the Games for the third time, the first country to do so in Olympic history.

It was at this point I knew I wanted to be involved in one way or another. Not by being one of the spectators lucky enough to celebrate what became a brilliant summer of sport, but by helping the Games take place.

What felt like many years later from that announcement was the opportunity to apply to be a Games Maker.  These were the volunteers who helped at every venue – from logistic to medical, creative to ticketing, behind the scenes and so much more. I applied to be a Games Maker where I was asked to attend a selection process and interview at the London Excel arena in 2011. Following on from that I was proud to be selected to be one of the Games Makers for the Paralympic Games and became part of a historic moment that will stay with me a lifetime.

In the summer of 2012, I received my accreditation, my uniform for the Games and started my voluntary shifts at the London Excel arena – a place where all manner of sports took place to compete for individual or team gold, silver or bronze medals. My experience was a blend of front of house and back of house – greeting spectators, athletes, directing international media and press to the sportsmen and women participating in the games, right through to redirecting spectators to other venues and memorabilia stalls.

The sports that took place were Boccia, Judo, Powerlifting, Table Tennis, Sitting Volleyball and Wheelchair Fencing. I was fortunate enough to not only meet fellow Games Makers but some of the Paralympians and coaches, as well as spectators from across the globe, ambassadors and more. With the level of internationalism across the venue (and the entire games), the way in which people communicated was passionate and jubilant.

When people celebrated a para-athlete’s success, the cheering and comradery and elation could be felt across the Docklands, and when they lost the emotions were strong and heartfelt, as everything that had been worked for over the last four years (if not longer) had been lost.

It is these moments – the highs and lows, the motivation and determination, the teamwork, collaboration and heart of internationalism which I learnt from the incredible summer of 2012 and it is these moments that have inspired me as part of the Games Maker generation.

Best of luck to all Paralympians competing in Tokyo 2020 over the next few weeks – I cannot wait to see what you achieve.